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WORLD IN BRIEF: Former fighters now in Iraqi state jobs

BAGHDAD -- Nearly 50,000 Sunni fighters who sided with American forces against al-Qaida and other militants in Iraq are now in government jobs, a top official said Tuesday in an attempt to soothe fears they would be neglected by the country's Shiite leaders.

The announcement, made during a press conference at a U.S. military base in the heart of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, was a reminder that Iraq's sectarian tensions remain raw and risk being stoked further as parliamentary elections approach in a matter of weeks.

Many of the former Sunni fighters, part of a group known as the Sons of Iraq, were themselves former insurgents who switched sides, helping to stabilize the country.

Iran rejects heart of nuclear proposal

VIENNA -- Iran has issued a formal response effectively rejecting an international proposal that it quickly export most of the material it would need to make a nuclear warhead, diplomats said Tuesday.

For months, Iranian officials have used the media to criticize the plan backed by most of the world's major powers and offer alternatives to one of its main conditions -- that the Islamic republic ship out most of its stock of enriched uranium and then wait for up to a year for its return in the form of fuel rods for its Tehran research reactor.

While critical of such statements, the United States and its allies said they did not constitute a formal response to the plan, first drawn up in early October in a landmark meeting in Geneva between Iran and the six world powers, and then refined later that month in Vienna talks among Iran, the U.S., Russia and France.

Britain bans drinking games

LONDON -- Bar-going Britons may soon be bidding goodbye to their country's all-you-can-drink deals -- as well as some of their more outlandish drinking games.

The government said Tuesday it was banning irresponsible promotions and boozy contests such as the ''dentist's chair'' -- where alcohol is poured directly into customers' mouths -- in an effort to tackle Britain's binge-drinking problem.

The government says the ban will limit binge-drinking, but health experts say the nation's deepening alcohol problem would best be tackled by imposing higher minimum prices on Britain's cheap booze.